Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Richard Nelson Large Ensemble Pursuit Heliotrope 2011

New American Music that is evocative, daring and immensely engaging, third-stream done right!
Brent Black /

Give most American jazz writers something that pushes hard bop to a new level and you will hear terms like "free jazz" or "experimental" and you may even hear the name of the prestigious German label ECM brought up in an effort to explain music they simply don't understand. The 2011 recording from Richard Nelson is one of the more dramatic releases that doesn't necessarily skirt the form and function of "traditional" western music, it just gives it a little nudge. Call it new American classical or the more trendy term "third-stream" this is nothing new but this is one of the best examples of making the transition between improvisational music and European classical seamless. Oh, this is a live recording too!

Haunting, evocative with a Euro-centric approach there is an orchestral vibe that adds layer upon layer of harmonic texture that are as intricate as they are spatially expansive. A musical yin / yang of composition finds some improvisational work that morphs effortless as the dynamic dictate while never approaching a level of pseudo intellectual pretentiousness that is often the sonic landmine that accompanies such a lyrical display.

While Maine certainly does not come to mind when thinking improvisational music hotbeds, Pursuit is made of up a stellar cast of musical co-conspirators and to pull a work such as this off in the studio is impressive, to nail it live is astounding! Working is a critic is far more than new releases, there are always those sonic gold nuggets waiting to be rediscovered and this is one of the best!

Track Listing: Portal; Innocence; Search; Azure; Strive; Abol Stream; Stillness.
Personnel: Richard Nelson: guitar; Bill Moseley: flute; Tim O'Dell: alto and soprano saxophones; Pamela Jenkins: alto saxophone; Frank Mauceri: tenor saxophone; John Foss: trumpet; Don Stratton: trumpet; Sebastian Jerosch: bass trombone; Anita Jerosch: bass trombone; Jon Luoma: viola; Moira Wolohan: cello; Cassidy Holden: bass; Steve Grover: drums; Russ Lombardi: conductor.